Vrilium Tube, the Magic Spike

From Kook Science

Vrilium Tube
Vrilium Tube, the Magic Spike - fdaphotos 35301772082.jpg

Photo of a Vrilium Tube (flickr/fdaphotos)

a.k.a. The Magic Spike
Creator(s) Robert T. Nelson
Vendors Robert T. Nelson;
Vrilium Products Co.
Packaging for Vrilium Tube (flickr/fdaphotos)

The Vrilium Tube, also known as the Magic Spike, is a pointed brass cylinder containing a quantity of catalytic barium chloride that was formerly marketed for use as a radio-therapeutic instrument, the brand name linking it with vril energy (as detailed in Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race). The manufacturers, Vrilium Products Co., promised that wearing the tube around the neck or elsewhere on the body would work to relieve and cure afflictions of the "sinuses, bronchial tubes, thyroid, low red blood corpuscle count, injuries, burned, and illnesses in general."[1]

Abbott E. Kay, who was Robert T. Nelson's sometime partner in the radium business, has been claimed as the original inventor of "Vrilium" (in particular by Martin Gardner in his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science), though more likely it was purely a product of Nelson's efforts.


  1. 3436. Misbranding of Vrilium Catalytic Barium Chloride tube. U.S. v. Vrilium Products Co., George C. Erickson, and Robert T. Nelson, Jr. Pleas of not guilty. Tried to the court and jury. Verdict of guilty. Fines of $1,000 against each defendant, plus costs; each individual defendant also sentenced to 1 year in prison. Judgment affirmed on appeal (185 F 2d 3). Petition for certiorari denied by U. S. Supreme Court (340 U. S. 947).